Friday, March 30, 2007

Passover: In Pursuit of Freedom

Many of us are preparing to sit down for a festival meal with friends and/or family to celebrate the fact that we were released from the "house of bondage" (which BTW also makes my family giggle. The whip-crack sounds that accompany it are also always funny.) And, to be super-lame and sound like every single rabbi in this country, this is a good time for us to think about others who are not so fortunate. Those who are in figurative or literal bondage.

Danya of Jewschool blogged about Rabbi Levin-Krauss' "empty chair for Darfur" idea, which, for the record, contains a component where you donate the cost of that meal. He suggests a few charities, but I'd like to add IRC to that list. IRC is responsible for those ads in the NYC subway that have a black hand with fingers of different races, or the words grandmother,uncle, father, etc.

Another good option, as Pissed Off Liberal Jew of POLJ points out, is donating to micro loan programs. The Nobel Peace Prize winner was awarded for his work with micro loans, so they've been in the news a lot recently. If you're wondering where is a good place to start, then check out Slate's piece comparing different microlending programs.

One of my problems with giving tzedakah* is that I feel like I can't make a difference. Apparently I'm not the only one, as a few non-profits have arisen (arose?) to deal with this specific issue. The most famous of these is DonorsChoose, an organization which allows teachers to post a "grant proposal" for their school/classroom's needs. Then DonorsChoose finds a way to purchase the required equipment and posts the price online next to the proposal. As an individual you can look for projects that interest you, donate however much you want, and even see how close the project is to coming to fruition. Overall a really satisfying experience. However, if American schools is too limited of a category for you, check out Changing the Present, and organization that works on the same principles, but with a wider variety of projects. I have linked to a project whose goal is to build a schoolroom in Darfur.

Sorry for the seriousness, I promise that the next post will include something silly and/or flippant.

*Tzedakah is Hebrew for charity


Liberal Jew said...


Thanks for the link and for the contiuned prom of mirco loans. This is what will fix the world's problems, no question. That whole end of history thing would work if we could fund the little businesses as aposed to bombing them.

Chag Semach.

arnie draiman said...


check out and to see that you can make a difference. jewishly.

happy pesach.
arnie draiman